by Quinn of Clan Five
I suppose you wonder what a sprite knows about ogres. A fair amount, I tell you.
After I left the Black Isle, which you maybe know as the Floating Isle, I was a hunted sprite. The Order of Wizards wanted me, preferably roasted. The King of the Franks wanted me, preferably in good shape so he could hang me properly. Clan Five wanted me, but that was on an unrelated matter.
The ogres, however, wanted me as a friend. They welcomed me into the Gray Cantons, sheltered me from assassins, hid me from spies, and gave me a home.
They even named a drink after me. More correctly, they named a measure after me. You can now go to Chur or Avental and order a quinn of mead and the bar beast will know exactly how much to pour—a flagon exactly my height. You will also be cheered mightily, which can be an unnerving experience if you’re not yourself an ogre. You’ve been warned.
Anyways, the chief thing to know about ogres is this: they are the most philosophical of peoples. True, they can be terrifyingly violent. An ogre is slower to anger, slower to calm. It’s one reason why they so often hire out as mercenaries, though there are other, more important reasons. Tough fighters, relentless foes, stupid, and absolutely trustworthy in all business matters. These are the pillars of the ogre stereotype held by everyone who has never met one.
Those of us who have worked with ogres, fought alongside (or against) them, or who have lived with them, we know differently. Of all the peoples in all the nations of Altearth there are none, not one, I’d rather call friend than an ogre.
Take this business about being a merciless enemy. That’s just not true at all. A mercenary ogre (just about the only kind outsiders encounter) is under a contract, a condotta, and such an agreement binds them more tightly than iron. Ogres do not violate contracts. Ever.
Now, among the Companies are plenty of stories about ogres who have done just that, but if you pay attention, and if you’re sitting down with mercenaries you’d best be paying attention, then you’ll know that the point of all such stories is to show how the ogre was able to do what needed to be done while never violating the letter of the contract. If ogres ever bothered to learn human law, they’d make damned fine attorneys. But no ogre will ever bother.
Which brings me to my second point: ogres are not stupid. They are slow—very slow—thinkers. They never speak unless they have something worthwhile to say, and they are keen judges of worth.
I am adamant on this point in part because I’m a sprite. We’re quick. Quick on our feet, quick in our thoughts, quick in speech. Humans are too slow for us, dwarves drive us batty, and as for elves … well, the less said the better. So when I first worked with an ogre tunneler in a Company, I thought I’d go crazy. I’d fly into a rage multiple times a day, flying around old Carmine Borromeo’s big ugly head while he just sat there, silent or sometimes with that infuriating ogre laugh “*huh huh huh*”–which took a full half minute to execute. Over time, because we had to work together, I slowed down enough to listen to him.
Oh yes, an ogre will talk, it turns out. In fact, get him into a discussion of the nominal reality of objects and you can pass a whole evening with one. Or, ask him his opinion as to the nature of the stars. But you’d better bring lunch! You see, an ogre will look at every question from every angle, and will bring in a few angles of his own. You’ll not likely get an answer out of him, but you’ll get a finely organized list of the alternatives.
Ogre philosophy goes deeper than this, though. They are deeply interested in the world and their relationship to it. And by “the world” I mean every plant, animal, stream, mountain, and bowl of ale. They make elves seem superficial and make dwarves sound silly. They can laugh (and an ogre’s laugh will startle you out of your small clothes, if you’ve never seen it), but even in their laughter they are appreciating the deeper currents of the joke. We sprites live in the moment. Not for us to worry about tomorrow. Ogres view the moment as no more than a leaf in a breeze. They’re interested in the wind.
Others can tell you about ogre history. They can fill you in about why ogres so often hire out to mercenary bands, why so many of them wind up being tunnelers, and the complexities of ogre social life. Look elsewhere to learn about ogre folk customs or their weird system of self-governing. There are plenty of books on the subjects.
I only wanted to tell you what I know, and especially what I know about John Golly. An ogre is steadfast, honorable, utterly fearless, and the best friend anyone could ever have.
Especially me, Quinn-the-Sprite.